by Deborah Burley

The government recently unveiled plans to cut feed-in tariffs by 50% in the next six weeks. It means that those with plans to fit solar panels to their homes will have to do it by the 12 December or else will only receive about half of the rates.

It means contracts that have already been signed for solar panels are getting cancelled by those less than happy with the ‘greenest government ever’’s announcement because the work won’t be done in time – others are expected to follow.

Is there still a future in solar panels?

Up until last week, the government stated that UK home owners would have until the 1 April 2012 to fit solar panels and still be eligible for the higher Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments.

It was a deal that many jumped on – with around 10,000 households joining up.
Now, after the change of plan from the coalition, that date has now been moved forward, prompting serious concern about the viability of an industry constructed around the Feed-in Tariff scheme that now contains over 25, 000 people. It may mean serious and unexpected job loss in a market that held such promise.

What next for FiTs?

Much anger and frustration had surrounded the government plans for FiTs. An industry protest is planned in Westminster on 22 November and Friends of the Earth have threatened a legal challenge should there be no reversal on the proposal, claiming that the government should be encouraging renewable energy instead of putting people off it.

The industry is working over-time to complete the already started installations by the 12 December or  the 43.4p per kWh initially promised will drop to just 21p per kWh.

Potential problems

As well as the obvious draw back to the government’s FiTs proposal, other barriers are becoming evident for those planning to earn from their solar panels.

Firstly, those in the middle of an installation may now discover that they have to have all relevant paperwork in by 5 December bringing the installation deadline forward even more, although this is by no means a blanket policy.

Feed in Tariffs – what you need to know

  • If you are having solar panels installed by the 12 December then you will be on a FiT  rate of 43.4p per kWh for the next 25 years.
  • If your installation falls between 12 December and 1 April, you will be on the FiT rate of 43.4p per kWh until 1 April when the rate drops to 21p per kWh.
  • If your solar panels are not fully installed until after 1 April, you are only eligible for the 21p per kWh rate.

How do the government’s FiT proposal affect you? Are you currently in the middle of installation or planning an installation for before or after the 12 December? Do you think it’ll still be worth setting up solar panels after you’ve made your home compliant with the energy-efficient measures? Do the new plans make little difference to you – it’s still good to be generating your own energy, right? Let us know your thoughts…

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